“How can artists distribute and sell their work in a digital economy beholden to ruthlessly commercial and centralized interests?”
“Enter Spotify, a platform that is definitely not the answer. In fact, it only exacerbates such conundrums. Yet for now it has manipulated the vast majority of music industry “players” into regarding it as a saving grace. As the world’s largest streaming music company, its network of paying subscribers has risen sharply in recent years, from five million paid subscribers in 2012 to more than sixty million in 2017. Indeed, the platform has now convinced a critical mass that paying $9.99 per month for access to thirty million songs is a solid, even virtuous idea. Every song in the world for less than your shitty airport meal. What could go wrong?”
“Yet, despite its conventional market viability, there are key differences between Spotify and its rivals, Apple Music and Amazon Music, which both have the luxury of capitalizing on overpriced, fun-sized plastic and metal surveillance machines. For Apple Music, the bottom line is selling iPhones, laptops, iPads, and other hardware. Streaming music makes those products more valuable. For Amazon Music, the motive is similar; they aim to sell Alexa devices and Amazon Prime subscriptions.”
“But Spotify’s worth is more ephemeral. Its value—what makes it addictive for listeners, a necessity for artists, and a worthwhile investment for venture capitalists—lies in its algorithmic music discovery “products” and its ability to make the entire music industry conform to the new standards it sets. This means one thing: playlists are king, and particularly the ones curated by Spotify itself. An unprecedented amount of data (“skip rates” and “completion rates” determine whether a song survives) and “human-machine technology” are deployed to quantify your tastes. This is what lies behind the “magic” of Spotify.”
“To understand the danger Spotify poses to the music industry—and to music itself—you first have to dig beneath the “user experience” and examine its algorithmic schemes.“
It’s a really interesting article, and you can read it HERE.